We all know those last few weeks of pregnancy can be tough, but trust me! You will be grateful for the prep you did beforehand. We all get so excited in planning the baby’s room, that we forget to think of a few other things. Make sure your freezer and pantry are loaded with healthy snacks and meals. If you have other children, organise car-pools and play dates. Diarise all that will be happening in that first week and plan accordingly. You don’t want the added worry of having to deal with that. For that first week or two, let time stand still.
When in hospital, use the resources around you. Write down all the things you are concerned or unsure about and ask. Whether it’s about breastfeeding/bottle feeding, sleep routines, even something as simple as how to wash your baby, (trust me, I had NO clue) no question is too simple. (And this leads neatly to the next tip.)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
We all seem to think that we are in this alone, or that if we ask for help we may look like we have no clue or can’t look after our own baby. The truth is, we HAVE NO CLUE! Especially with baby #1. I learnt very quickly to suck it up and ask for help. The reality is that most people are MORE than happy to lend a hand, but won’t volunteer the help because they don’t want to intrude. Let people know that you are happy to accept help, it’ll make life so much more bearable.
This was an absolute life saver for me. I was lucky enough to have friends and family that made me a stack of meals that I could put in the freezer. There is nothing better than knowing you can feed your family by just shoving a pre-cooked meal in the oven. Knowing also that the meal is healthy and home-made – no need for cheap and nasty fast food. If you don’t have a support system large enough or able to cook for you, start preparing meals a few months in advance. Simple, delicious and healthy meals that will get you and your family through those first few weeks.
Yes, it’s easier said than done, but you don’t have to do it all. There is no such thing as a super mom. We are all just moms trying to get it all done. When you bring your little bundle home, forget about the laundry, the dishes or washing the floors. Sit and enjoy your baby, read, sleep, lie on the couch and watch movies whilst you enjoy those new cuddles. Don’t be in a rush to get chores done – there will always be more dishes and laundry to do, but you will only have those first few moments with your new baby once.
Take care of yourself
Nobody else in your home will thrive if you don’t allow yourself to heal. Your body has just created the most amazing and beautiful gift, but it has also been through the ringer! So slow down, let the healing process happen. Emotionally, psychologically and physically we need to look after ourselves in those first few weeks. A happy mom is a well healed mom. Pour a bath, sip on a cup of tea, and just be.
Enjoy being bedroom bound
When I had my babies, my husband knew that I would not be venturing around the house (unless I got bored ?) I stayed in my bed, feeding, sleeping, and healing. It got a little more difficult the more children I had. But I allowed the kids to join me, to be involved with the baby. We read we sang and we spent valuable time together. Do not feel guilty about lying in bed and bonding with your baby. Some of my most special memories are from being “bedroom bound”.
Set guilt aside
Do not feel guilty. And I will say it again, DO NOT feel guilty about anything. Not about taking time off work, or not making meals or not packing lunch boxes like you used to. Not even about wanting to be alone and not inviting friends for tea. The moment we allow ourselves to feel guilt, we are setting ourselves up for trouble. It will eat away at you until you cannot climb out of that hole. Trust me. I’ve been there… I still have guilt feelings, but as hard as it is, we need to try and set those feelings aside. To be KIND to ourselves! Life is different now that there is a new baby in the house, it must be… but it will not always be this way. Things will return to a new normalcy eventually and then you can pick up again on all the things you leave undone now (so don’t feel guilty about it).
Involve your partner
I know we want that cute baby all to ourselves, who wouldn’t, but our partners made the baby too ? They didn’t have nine months to bond like we did, but they were there – they had their own experience of those nine months that is just as real as our own, they are just as eager and emotionally invested. We need to share the load. I remember when I finally allowed my husband to feed our daughter. The look on his face will remain etched in my heart forever. It was a beautiful sight. He also was the first one to bath all our children. Not only did it give me time to just be, but it allowed him and baby to bond and gave him that special moment with his child.
YES! Exactly that. Everything can wait. Just take a deep breath and enjoy. It’s hard and we are all dealing with different situations, but if you just allow yourself to relax and savour the moment, even for just a minute, it will allow you to be more present. Do it! One last note; I often found that if I didn’t get it all done before my husband came home, or the kids finished school, that I just wasn’t a good wife or mom. The reality is our families would rather have a happy mom, than a stressed, depressed and unhappy one. So enjoy those first few weeks and let time stand still as you fall in love with your new baby.
Jacqui Bester is firstly a wife, and mom to five rambunctious children who drive her nuts and fill her heart with unspeakable joy all in the space of a single day. She writes about her day to day adventures and misadventures in parenting, life and marriage. Jacqui is known for sharing a brutally honest account of her MESSY “mamahood”… the joy, the fun, the laughter and the tears. She enjoys a good mystery-crime novel with a lovely glass of red wine, trying out new foods and restaurants with her hubby on the odd date-night, exploring new places, learning new skills, and generally anything else that calls for a more adventurous approach to life. You can find her over on One Messy Mama.